“Coarsely and carefully” is the most common practice: The key to successful recruitment branding at Uzabase

With the shrinking labor force and diversification of the reasons for one’s choice to work, recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult, and no recruitment strategy can be called a “silver bullet.” It goes without saying that it is people that create corporate growth and generate innovation. How can we increase recruitment productivity at such a time? Several managers and others in positions of responsibility may be troubled by this question.
One of the solutions to this issue is recruitment branding. On the lines of advertising, recruitment branding involves the use of media and SNS channels to sell the company to potential recruits. Today, by drawing from among several examples, I would like to introduce a case from Uzabase Ltd. Uzabase is a company that operates platforms such as “NewsPicks” and “SPEEDA” and has a reputation within the industry for recruitment branding. What measures does Uzabase implement? We spoke to Mr. Kyohiro Yamada, the Manager of the Branding Team at the Corporate Headquarters, and Mr. Shuhei Sakae, the manager of the “SPEEDA” culture unit.


Recruitment branding for each business – A unique culture that underpins Uzabase’s recruitment strategies.
As a result of linking recruitment content to scout emails, the scout email response rate increased by 1.5 times.
Uzabase considered the secrets of media management around user recruiting calmly and carefully.
Key Points

Kyohiro Yamada is the Manager of the Branding Team at the Corporate Headquarters and also the Editor-in-Chief of UB Journal. He was
born in Fukuoka in 1982. Mr. Yamada joined Hatena Inc., in 2005 and was responsible for user support, the editorial department, marketing, and PR. He joined Uzabase Inc., in 2015 and launched “UB Journal” in 2018. He has served as its editor-in-chief since.

Shuhei Sakae is the Manager of the Culture Unit at SPEEDA. After working for agents and HR divisions in operating companies, he joined Uzabase in 2019. He is now the manager of the Culture Team in the Human Resources department at SPEEDA.

Recruitment branding for each business and “management principles” – A unique culture that underpins Uzabase’s recruitment strategies.

At Uzabase, recruitment is carried out individually for each business such as NewsPicks and SPEEDA. Recruitment for general employees is carried out by the company as a whole, but while the company claims that it handles “recruitment for all employees,” the recruitment staff and site members for each business work in close cooperation to operate recruitment plans for their own domains. It appears that recruitment branding is performed on a per-business basis. How did you arrive at such a system?

Yamada: “At Uzabase, we have a ‘team management’ business style. Under this system, CEOs and executive officers can make decisions freely as long as they fulfill their responsibilities by separating PL and BS for each business. The same is true of recruitment. The recognition of the kinds of teams that SPEEDA wishes to create and how they wish to be recognized as a recruitment destination are very important.”

Sakae: “Even under the same holding company, different businesses will have different missions and visions. Similarly, should you use uniform recruitment branding across all businesses simply because they are all part of the same group, the idea conveyed to the candidates will become hazy and unclear. There will be no clarity in internal branding either. If the new members’ values do not match the company’s values, a mismatch after joining the company would be inevitable.”

Yamada: “I think recruitment is the best accelerator for growing a business. The corporate headquarters to which I belong is a unit that considers company-wide optimization. We first started by creating a recruitment branding model for the SPEEDA main business and then expanded it to other businesses.”

The company carries out recruitment branding for each business. There are also common behavior guidelines that have been shared across the entire group. These are the “Three Recruitment Promises.”

Sakae: “The three promises are ‘Judge in the order of value, mission, and skill,’ ‘Recruit those who want to surpass themselves,’ and ‘Do not entrust pass/fail decisions to others.’ The mission and values are emphasized in particular. There are cases in which casual interviews are held several times in order to have candidates achieve the correct interpretation. Where they are highly skilled and there is an urgent need to fill a vacancy, those who do not share our values will be passed over for recruitment. There are, of course, periods of fluctuation. If you meet someone whose skills leave nothing to criticize, it can be a struggle to say ‘You satisfy the business requirements for this position.’ But here, we should harden our hearts and try not to concede. The team that requested the position may think that ‘they have not done any work toward recruitment at all.’”

Yamada: “The reason why the mission and values have been emphasized is because we have experienced several failures since our founding to date. At the inception, Uzabase had no clearly-documented mission or values. The organization was ready to collapse by the time we reached 30 members. By codifying the mission and values that had so far been considered important into the ‘7 rules’ and ‘31 Promises,’ the company culture changed and this proved to be a formative experience after which all employees moved forward. Indeed, even if you hire someone who does not match your values, ultimately, they will be unable to work well, and it is unlikely that either party will be happy. The ‘Three Recruitment Promises’ were also born out of a reflection on an instance in which an individual had been hired based on a skill match, without particularly strong discernment of their degree of empathy for the mission and values. The introspection that led to the conclusion that the entry management system had not functioned well is now deeply rooted within the company.

The company terms the management that links its mission and values as its ‘management principles’ and emphasizes upon employee autonomy.”

Sakae: “The COO, Inagaki, calls Uzabase’s organizational strategy ‘management principles.’ This is a concept in which the mission and values are the ‘principles,’ while the rest is entrusted to each employee. Our philosophy is basically that ‘Unusual abilities are a talent, and do not impede the freedoms of others.’”

Yamada: “I have heard that this idea emerged at the time of the company’s founding. Uzabase has three co-founders. Inagaki (Yusuke, the present COO) was an engineer while Umeda (Yusuke, the present CEO) came in from the business side. It appears that a conflict arose at the time owing to a difference in working styles. Engineers run batch operations on large databases that can require long hours of work late into the night. For this reason, he sometimes came to work after lunch. The business side responded, saying, ‘Isn’t it appropriate to come to work at 9 am?’ This gave rise to a conflict. At the time, the founders explained their respective positions and negotiated what they should or should not do, and it is said that rather than a ‘must do X’ rule, the underlying principles were verbalized. Rules constrain people, while principles free them. That culture continues today.”

As a result of linking recruitment content to scout emails, the scout email response rate increased by 1.5 times

The company emphasizes freedom through principles and promotes recruitment by each individual business. Next, let us ask about the more specific policies in place in the company. In 2019, the owned media “UB Journal” demonstrated a major effect on SPEEDA’s recruitment. As a result of using this media, the scout mail response rate improved, as did the quality of interviews. How did you achieve such remarkable results?

Yamada: “At the outset, we worked with the aim of creating a talent pool and tracked the number of effective leads that could be sent to casual interviews and company briefings. This did not work. We wanted to increase the number of casual interview participants and to do that, we wanted to create articles with buzz, each featuring different working styles. We were unable to produce the articles we really wanted to produce. As the candidates that were recruited through light articles were often superficial, we realized that this was not the right approach.”

Sakae: “It was around that time that I joined the company. I was reviewing the recruitment process, including the text of the emails and the job descriptions. I was very grateful for the articles that communicated the internal situation during the recruiting process. While speaking to Yamada, I switched to a policy that emphasized on the goal of ‘Filling the gap between perception and understanding and the trust situation so that those participating in selection and interviewers can use their time meaningfully.’”

Yamada: “In line with this policy change, we opted not to track the number of PVs or leads. Rather, we had no choice but to stop. Our mission is to ‘Change the world using economic information,’ which is a really niche area, and because the contents of business stories can be quite heavy, readers must have some passion. It is difficult to take PV. But it was this part that we really wanted to convey. We also wanted to reduce the burden on interviewers. We give the candidates information on the phase at which the business is in at the relevant time, and why their abilities are necessary. It is a burden to repeat this and it takes up valuable time. When seen from the candidate’s perspective, too, we want the recruitment process to be beneficial. The use of media is an optimal means to communicate such a message.”

Sakae: “In creating the content packages necessary for recruitment, we aligned closely with the editorial department, including Mr. Yamada. What message do we wish to convey to candidates? Who will be featured? What will the story be? We decide the first impression of Uzabase, which forms the stepping-stone for everything from the application to the interview, and from successful recruitment to retention after joining the company. We put our efforts into communicating openly in the hope of appealing to candidates with facts alone, without any embellishment. Strengthening of the collaboration between ‘UB Journal’ and recruitment activities began in around May 2019. However, there were instances in which articles were linked in scout emails. The response rate to such scout emails was 1.5 times greater. As the recruitment process was being reviewed in parallel, the increase cannot be attributed solely to our content. I have a gut feeling, though, that more than half is thanks to our content. Among the qualitative parts of our recruitment process, not only was the interview time reduced, which was the initial aim, but we also heard back from some interviewers who said that because candidates had read these articles before the interviews, from the outset, the quality of the discussion and energy had improved. We have consistently been carrying out a trial and error approach while verifying the data, but I think the effect has been significant.”

Yamada: “As part of the operating system, there is an in-house editorial department within the corporate branding team. We created a system that can publish articles within 1 or 2 weeks of receiving a request from the recruitment staff. The priority of positions changes every day, and we hear ‘That candidate has been rejected, so I need you to increase the priority of this content!’ every day. Adapting to the needs of the workplace with a sense of speed is a strength of in-house operations. Even if you cannot proceed from a scout email to an interview, it would be ideal if you could remind yourself while thinking of changing jobs in the future ‘speaking of which, there’s Uzabase.”

Uzabase considered the secrets of media management around user recruiting calmly and carefully

What measures are necessary to enhance the productivity of recruitment media like Uzabase has done? Are there any tips that other companies can use?

Sakae: “First, do not embellish. You cannot earn the trust of readers with untrue information. You cannot use untrue information just to look good. Our business involves handling information. If you do not keep promises and maintain trust, you turn your back on the product and everyone supporting it. We are responsible for the value of the media we present and scrutinize the contents of the information we convey in the ‘UB Journal’ accordingly. This could not have been achieved without the help of our employees and those of partner companies and service users, as well as the specialist advice and cooperation we received from the editorial department. It is not about setting a publication date with a short-term perspective that suits only the recruitment division. It is not about giving priority solely to our own interests. There are times when you want to speed up the recruitment process, but if the message you convey in doing so is wrong or self-righteous, you may not obtain the desired effect, and in many ways, this may bring about a negative impact. There is a desire to disseminate information that is effective for recruitment as quickly as possible. I feel that recruiters must always bear in mind that this is realized calmly and carefully with advice and cooperation from the team and through the accumulation of projects. You may think that recruitment-owned media is narrow as it only interviews company employees, but we came up with the idea to be interviewed by product users and tested it out. By talking about what we have experienced through our work, focusing both on the good and the bad points, we wanted our readers to gain an unconstrained and specific image of our work. Seeking the customer’s perspective makes it more objective, and I think that the contents have become more trustworthy for candidates. There are several hurdles in planning to have service users appear in recruitment content, but by communicating information that is real, it has been possible to deepen understanding and create a broad range of content.”

Yamada: “It may be a good idea to try to consider not only the contents of the article, but also to understand ways in which that content may be delivered to readers. Our main objective was our commitment to recruitment. We did not emphasize on the buzz and social media all that much. Our scout emails became our most important channel of communication. I think it is better to create a system that produces content in-house as far as possible. Quality from external professionals may be higher, but because of differences in culture and business understanding, it takes longer to publish. Recruitment is closely tied to our business plans, so it is better if we are able to control it ourselves. Even if you have no experience writing, employees can share their feelings and challenges in their work by producing content, and this improves the clarity of the image presented during recruitment. I think it is important to do it without any polishing. In future attempts at recruitment, I think that, in addition to the treatment and conditions, it is increasingly important to focus on the kind of culture that the company has and the kind of brand character it possesses. No matter the company, there will be goodness associated with a particular team. That uniqueness should be communicated. Those who are sympathetic are met with and this leads to recruitment. I think it would be really great if such a society can be realized. We create our own culture and brand fastidiously with our own hands, and I think we must continue to do our best. While there is no ‘silver bullet’ in recruitment, it is possible to determine the direction of efforts that are likely to lead to success. The showy Uzabase recruitment branding is underpinned by a steady stream of efforts to ‘deliver to people who want to deliver.’ So long as the company achieves results, if you continue to communicate calmly and carefully, this will surely bring good results.”

Key Points

・Uzabase employs “team management,” PL/BS is separate for and recruitment branding is conducted separately by each business.
・The mission and values are particularly emphasized in recruitment, and those who are unable to share the company’s values are passed over for recruitment.
・Own media for recruitment purposes does not embellish information. It seeks to win based on facts and does not pursue PV.
・Own media has had the effect of raising the scout mail response rate, reducing the duration of interviews, and increasing the quality of discussions with and passion among candidates.
・In future recruitment activities, the kind of culture that a company possesses and the nature of its brand personality will become more and more important.